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If you’re like my family, you like to take a vacation at least once a year. We always take a vacation around May, but we like to start planning it long before that, usually at the beginning of the year or even at the end of the previous year, to give us enough time to save up money and allow us to pay for our vacation without going into debt. Now is the time to start thinking about where you might want to go and how much it is going to cost.
For us, we like cruises. You get so much out of a cruise for a relatively small amount of money. We took our first cruise, for a total of $900 which included our room, food, basic drinks, entertainment, etc. The only things we paid additionally for were alcoholic drinks and excursions at the different ports. Including those things, we spent around $1400 and had one of the best vacations of our lives. From then on, we were hooked. We’ve spent the same amount to get a condo on the beach somewhere for a week and did not have nearly as much fun.
We usually sail on Carnival. For a long time, Carnival had the reputation for not being as nice as other cruise lines. I will tell you, as a person who loves luxury, I have never had a problem with Carnival. We have loved every cruise we have taken with them. I recommend them for a great cruise at a decent price point.
No matter what your style, planning ahead is key to a stress-free and debt-free vacation. Quite a few vacation options, especially cruises, have payment plans that allow you to pay over time if you plan far enough in advance. We booked our next cruise a month or two ago and have been making monthly payments. It will be paid off about 2 months before the cruise. You can also go ahead pay for excursions right after you book so that those, too, are already taken care of before you board the boat.
List out your estimates of how much your vacation will cost you. Don’t forget things like food, gas (if you have to drive), flights, and extras like excursions or special outings. Once you have your list filled out and totaled, divide the total by the number of paychecks you have left before the vacation to get the amount you will need to save from each paycheck. For a easy-to-use worksheet, please subscribe below.
For example, if your vacation will cost a total of $1500 and you have 20 paychecks until vacation time than: $1500/20 = $75/paycheck. $75 is the amount you will need to set aside from each paycheck to cover your expenses. While not a small amount to a lot of people, it is so much more doable than planning your vacation later and needing to save several hundred from each paycheck. The farther in advance you plan, the lower this number will be.
If this number is not doable, change your plans or find a way to earn some extra income. Whatever you do, don’t go into debt by using a credit card you can’t pay off right away. It is a slippery slope and bound to lead to more trouble in the future.
If your paychecks vary or you want a clearer picture of when you may have extra money to use, think about using The Fab Life Budget system which allows you to create a budget by paycheck, so you always know how much you have left over for debt, vacations, savings, etc. It is simple to use and has worked well for me for years.
Once again, if you would like my simple Savings Goal Worksheet, enter your information below.